Divorce, Separation And Child Arrangements – Do I Have To Go To Court?


Divorce, Separation And Child Arrangements – ‘Do I Have To Go To Court?’ Timms Family Law Solicitor Adrian Rose discusses in his latest blog…

The short answer to the question is “no”! There is a common misunderstanding that when parents separate, they have to go to Court to make arrangements for where their children live and how much time they spend with their parents.

In a series of recent speeches, Sir Andrew McFarlane – who is Head of Family Courts in England and Wales – said that many couples see the Family Court as the first port of call when they separate, rather than it being the last resort. He explained that the Family Court will always be willing to protect the vulnerable and to safeguard children but that too many families rely on the Court system to deal with relationship and practical issues. Instead, parents should be encouraged to resolve things themselves, perhaps with the help of experienced family justice professionals. This can be to make arrangements that work in their particular circumstances and meet the needs of their family, rather than have orders imposed upon them.

Making Arrangements Without Going To Court

Parents often ask how to make arrangements for their children when they separate and if they need to have Court Orders. In most families, agreements are made without any legal help and last for as long as they are needed. Older children are often involved in the decision making process too.

When parents cannot easily make arrangements themselves, then family justice professionals such as lawyers and mediators can help. Often with sensible and practical advice and a willingness to compromise, agreements can then be reached.

Where agreements are reached, there is no need for the Family Court to be involved and Court Orders are not necessary. In fact, the “no order” principle is likely to apply.

Divorce, Separation And Child Arrangements -What Happens If Disputes Remain?

Where disputes remain, sometimes the Family Court is the only option, but it should be seen as the last resort and one to deal with complex cases where there are new and challenging issues of Law or where there are safeguarding or welfare issues that require investigation and expert assistance.

The view from the senior judge is that only these cases should go to Court and that for others, early advice, family mediation and relationship counselling and family therapy are a better way of making arrangements and protecting children from the inevitable harm that comes from being involved in Court proceedings.

How Can Timms Help?

If you have any questions regarding this topic, or any other family related queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01332 364436 or via email at a.rose@timms-law.com. Alternatively, you can read our webpage on the topic here.


Adrian Rose

July 2022


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